New Accor identity unites Makkah, Madinah hotels

The new identity was launched in the presence of Managing Director Alaaeldin Saleh and executive directors of the group.
Updated 10 June 2019

New Accor identity unites Makkah, Madinah hotels

AccorHotels Makkah has united all its hotels in Makkah and Madinah under the umbrella of “Accor Holy Destinations,” unifying booking processes for Hajj and Umrah.

The new identity was launched in the presence of managing director Alaaeldin Saleh and executive directors of the group.

Accor Holy Destinations — a first-of-its-kind alliance in the Saudi hospitality sector — includes eight hotels in Makkah and three in Madinah.

The global hospitality group recently participated in the Saudi pavilion of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage during the international travel and tourism event Arabian Travel Market 2019, held from April 28 to May 1.

The new alliance comprises 10,617 rooms, including residential units, suites, hotel apartments, royal floors and villas. “This has given AccorHotels Makkah a competitive advantage in the Kingdom’s hospitality sector for its market share of 52 percent of the luxurious rooms and hotel apartments,” a statement said. 

“Accor Holy Destinations aims at unifying the booking process for travel companies when booking for Hajj and Umrah, organizations and individuals alike across all AccorHotels in Makkah and Madinah.”

Managing director Saleh said Accor Holy Destinations will have a digital platform for booking containing information about Makkah and Madinah, a full-fledged map of the area, nearby shops, and a 360-degree video of the Holy Mosque. 

The first phase of the platform has already been launched and contains comprehensive information about AccorHotels in Makkah. The second and third phases are underway and will contain information about the rituals of Hajj and Umrah.

The fourth phase will focus on providing information about the city of Madinah and AccorHotels in that region.

“We hope that the new umbrella will facilitate many processes related to their travel and accommodation so that visitors of the Two Holy Mosques can travel comfortably. Additionally, we trust that this will contribute to the development of the field and achieve the desired objectives of the target audience from outside and inside the Kingdom,” Saleh added.

Hotels that are a part of the alliance include: From Makkah, Makkah Clock Royal Tower, a Fairmont Hotel, Swissôtel Al-Maqam, Raffles Makkah Palace, Ibis Styles, Swissôtel Makkah, Pullman Zamzam, Mövenpick Hajjar and Mercure Hibatullah Hotel; and from Madinah, Pullman Zamzam Madinah, Anwar Al-Madinah Mövenpick Hotel and Mövenpick Madinah

AccorHotels Makkah’s participation in the 26th edition of Arabian Travel Markets in Dubai aimed to further develop its partnerships, create networking opportunities and capitalize on the location of the hotels in the two holy cities.


KAUST research to boost global date fruit production

Updated 16 October 2019

KAUST research to boost global date fruit production

Today on World Food Day, a team of plant scientists from King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) has begun a major project to improve global date palm production and protection.

This project is the first time that the date palm genome has been studied so comprehensively. Dr. Ikram Blilou, professor of plant science at KAUST, and her research team in Saudi Arabia have collected samples from ancient date palms in the historical farm of Al-Dabeta, by the Quba Mosque in Madinah. 

“Our main goal is to improve date palm fruit production and quality in the Kingdom. With more than 2,000 existing varieties globally from which 400 grow in Saudi Arabia, we are concentrating on the ‘Ajwa’ date variety, because of its important societal and religious value for Saudi Arabia in particular,” said Dr. Blilou. 

Earlier this year, Dr. Blilou published in the scientific journal Plant Cell, findings that provide an insight into how desert plants are able to thrive in hostile habitats. The research teams within KAUST’s Center for Desert Agriculture are creating molecular and biotechnological tools to improve date palm agriculture by sequencing the genome of the Ajwa date palm.

“The date palm is one of the few fruit trees that, remarkably, can grow in the desert, a habitat with an arid climate where extreme temperature changes and drought conditions limit plant growth,” said Dr. Blilou. 

“Within KAUST’s Center for Desert Agriculture Research we are studying date palms using advanced genome sequencing techniques and have begun to develop new breeding strategies to help palms grow faster and healthier as well as making them more resistant to pathogens and pests like the red palm weevil.” 

According to the National Palms and Dates Center (NCPD), Saudi Arabia produces an estimated 1.1 million tons of dates per year, 15 percent of the world’s date production. In addition, export of dates from Saudi Arabia grew by 11.7 percent in 2018 compared to 2017.

“Despite this economic importance, basic research into the date palm, including understanding mechanisms of growth and adaptation to the desert environment, is still in its early stages mainly because of the lack of molecular tools and the challenging nature of the plant. It requires a long generation time for flowering which can be four to five years and setting fruits that take 10 to 15 years,” said Dr. Rod Wing, professor of plant science and director of the KAUST Center for Desert Agriculture.

The next step for researchers at this center is to work on generating high-quality genomes for a large number of other varieties of date palms, bringing further potential benefits for date palm agriculture around the world.